Water Shortages Hit US Power Supply (New Scientist)


Running at lower capacity

Water shortages hit US power supply (New Scientist, Aug 15, 2012):

As the United States’ extended heat wave and drought threaten to raise global food prices, energy production is also feeling the pressure. Across the nation, power plants are becoming overheated and shutting down or running at lower capacity; drilling operations struggle to get the water they need, and crops that would become biofuel are withering.

While analysts say the US should survive this year without major blackouts, more frequent droughts and increased population size will continue to strain power generation in the future.

Power plants are a hidden casualty of droughts, says Barbara Carney of the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) in Morgantown, West Virginia, because they are completely dependent on water for cooling and make up about half the water usage in the US. That makes them vulnerable in a heat wave. If water levels in the rivers that cool them drop too low, the power plant – already overworked from the heat – won’t be able to draw in enough water. In addition, if the cooling water discharged from a plant raises already-hot river temperatures above certain thresholds, environmental regulations require the plant to shut down.

One nuclear plant in Connecticut recently had to shut down because the sea water used for cooling was too warm. Nationwide, nuclear generation is at its lowest in a decade, with the plants operating at only 93 per cent of capacity.

Nuclear is the thirstiest power source. According to NETL, the average nuclear plant that generates 12.2 million megawatt hours of electricity requires far more water to cool its turbines than other power plants. Nuclear plants need 2725 litres of water per megawatt hour for cooling. Coal or natural gas plants need, on average, only 1890 and 719 litres respectively to produce the same amount of energy.

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20 Signs That A Horrific Global Food Crisis Is Coming

In case you haven’t noticed, the world is on the verge of a horrific global food crisis.  At some point, this crisis will affect you and your family.  It may not be today, and it may not be tomorrow, but it is going to happen.  Crazy weather and horrifying natural disasters have played havoc with agricultural production in many areas of the globe over the past couple of years.  Meanwhile, the price of oil has begun to skyrocket.  The entire global economy is predicated on the ability to use massive amounts of inexpensive oil to cheaply produce food and other goods and transport them over vast distances.  Without cheap oil the whole game changes.  Topsoil is being depleted at a staggering rate and key aquifers all over the world are being drained at an alarming pace.  Global food prices are already at an all-time high and they continue to move up aggressively.  So what is going to happen to our world when hundreds of millions more people cannot afford to feed themselves?

Most Americans are so accustomed to supermarkets that are absolutely packed to the gills with massive amounts of really inexpensive food that they cannot even imagine that life could be any other way.  Unfortunately, that era is ending.

There are all kinds of indications that we are now entering a time when there will not be nearly enough food for everyone in the world.  As competition for food supplies increases, food prices are going to go up.  In fact, at some point they are going to go way up.

Let’s look at some of the key reasons why an increasing number of people believe that a massive food crisis is on the horizon.

The following are 20 signs that a horrific global food crisis is coming….

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The US is building an £8 billion super military base on the Pacific island of Guam

The US is building an £8 billion super military base on the Pacific island of Guam in an attempt to contain China’s military build-up.


A B-1B Lancer takes off from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam in 2003 Photo: GETTY

The expansion will include a dock for a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, a missile defence system, live-fire training sites and the expansion of the island’s airbase. It will be the largest investment in a military base in the western Pacific since the Second World War, and the biggest spend on naval infrastructure in decades.

However, Guam residents fear the build-up could hurt their ecosystem and tourism-dependent economy.

Estimates suggest that the island’s population will rise by almost 50 per cent from its current 173,000 at the peak of construction. It will eventually house 19,000 Marines who will be relocated from the Japanese island of Okinawa, where the US force has become unpopular.

The US’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has said that this could trigger serious water shortages. The EPA said that dredging the harbour to allow an aircraft carrier to berth would damage 71 acres of pristine coral reefs.

The EPA’s report said the build-up would “exacerbate existing substandard environmental conditions on Guam”.

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Al Gore takes cash for ‘Life Earth’ water campaign from Dow Chemical

Al Gore is an elite puppet like Bush and Obama. He has been selected by the elite to brainwash the people with the global warming scam in order to push through with the elite agenda of world government, the ‘New World Order’.

It’s all about money, power and control.

Al Gore could become world’s first carbon billionaire


Environmentalists condemn former vice-president for letting controversial company fund Life Earth

al-gore-takes-cash-for-life-earth-water-campaign-from-dow-chemical
Shyam Babu, 10, lives close to the Dow-owned Union Carbide Factory in Bhopal, India

Al Gore, the self-styled squeakiest-clean and deepest-green politician in American history, has some explaining to do this weekend. His environmental organisation has taken money to raise awareness about the need for clean water from a controversial chemicals company.

Dow Chemical, the US firm, is sponsoring Life Earth events in 150 cities today. The event aims to raise money for clean water programmes. Research by environmental organisations has found dangerous levels of highly toxic chemicals in rivers, lakes and other water supplies close to several other factories owned by Dow and its subsidiaries in countries including the United States, Brazil and South Africa.

Dow’s factories at its global headquarters in Midland, Michigan, have been accused of contaminating the region, including the Tittabawassee River floodplains, with high levels of dioxin – one of the “dirty dozen” most dangerous chemicals. In 2007, the highest level of dioxin contamination ever measured by the US Environmental Protection Agency was found in the Michigan Saginaw River. Residents are advised to avoid contact with river sediments and not to eat locally caught fish.

Campaigners are outraged by what they call Dow’s “blatant attempt” to paint itself as a green company and divert attention from the Bhopal scandal, where 25 years after the 1984 disaster at the plant (then owned by Union Carbide) thousands of villagers are still forced to use contaminated water which causes birth defects, cancer and skin disorders.

Live Earth, which has accumulated celebrity supporters and thousands of activists worldwide since its climate change concert in 2007, has been criticised by campaigners for joining forces with a company which has a track record of, at best, being slow to clean up toxic spills that pollute water, damage ecosystems and endanger lives.

Three weeks ago, Amnesty International asked Live Earth to reconsider the sponsorship unless Dow publicly agreed to clean up Bhopal. Live Earth did not respond.

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China: Severe Drought; Cloud-Seeding Across 77 Counties; Emergency Supplies of Drinking Water to 18 Million People; Rice Prices Spike 10% in One Month

Got food & water supplies?

The Food Crisis of 2010: USDA vs Reality

The artificial rain through cloud-seeding is like poison.


china-guard

Severe drought in Southwestern China is driving up food prices and heightening concerns about the availability of drinking water.

Price of rice rises in south China (China Daily):

Huang Weijuan, a Guangzhou housewife, said she spent 55 yuan ($8) to buy a bag of rice in Taojin agricultural bazaar in the city’s Yuexiu district over the weekend.

“But the price for the same bag of rice, which weighs 20 kg, was about 50 yuan a month ago,” Huang said.

And the price of courgette, a vegetable which mainly grows in Yunnan province, is now selling at 5 yuan per kg in the bazaar, up 0.5 yuan from last month, Huang said.

“The price of many foods and vegetables have gone up in the past month and I worry that prices will keep increasing,” she said.

The government is rushing to help in order to alleviate the potential for social tension. In some of the hardest hit provinces, the government has been forced to provide emergency supplies of drinking water to 18 million people. They’ve also resorted to creating artificial rain through cloud-seeding. Over 3,200 artillery pieces bombarded the sky with chemicals across 77 counties, forcing moderate rain to fall.

“It was the first rain I have seen since last October, but it only lasted for about three hours from 3 am to 6 am this morning,” Bu Lupiao, a farmer of Bapiao village in Jinghong county, Xishuangbanna Dai autonomous prefecture.

Since October… That’s one heck of a drought. Yet the farmer above was lucky. In Chuxiong Yi prefecture, over 100 cloud seeding guns failed to create rain. Cloud seeding isn’t a long-term solution, thus the natural rain better come soon else there could be more pressure on living standards in drought-hit regions.

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The 21st-century African land grab by rich countries facing global food and water shortages

Highly recommended article.


An Observer investigation reveals how rich countries faced by a global food shortage now farm an area double the size of the UK to guarantee supplies for their citizens

the-21st-century-african-land-grab-by-rich-countries-faced-by-global-food-and-water-shortages
A woman tends vegetables at a giant Saudi-financed farm in Ethiopia.

We turned off the main road to Awassa, talked our way past security guards and drove a mile across empty land before we found what will soon be Ethiopia’s largest greenhouse. Nestling below an escarpment of the Rift Valley, the development is far from finished, but the plastic and steel structure already stretches over 20 hectares – the size of 20 football pitches.

The farm manager shows us millions of tomatoes, peppers and other vegetables being grown in 500m rows in computer controlled conditions. Spanish engineers are building the steel structure, Dutch technology minimises water use from two bore-holes and 1,000 women pick and pack 50 tonnes of food a day. Within 24 hours, it has been driven 200 miles to Addis Ababa and flown 1,000 miles to the shops and restaurants of Dubai, Jeddah and elsewhere in the Middle East.

Ethiopia is one of the hungriest countries in the world with more than 13 million people needing food aid, but paradoxically the government is offering at least 3m hectares of its most fertile land to rich countries and some of the world’s most wealthy individuals to export food for their own populations.

The 1,000 hectares of land which contain the Awassa greenhouses are leased for 99 years to a Saudi billionaire businessman, Ethiopian-born Sheikh Mohammed al-Amoudi, one of the 50 richest men in the world. His Saudi Star company plans to spend up to $2bn acquiring and developing 500,000 hectares of land in Ethiopia in the next few years. So far, it has bought four farms and is already growing wheat, rice, vegetables and flowers for the Saudi market. It expects eventually to employ more than 10,000 people.

But Ethiopia is only one of 20 or more African countries where land is being bought or leased for intensive agriculture on an immense scale in what may be the greatest change of ownership since the colonial era.

An Observer investigation estimates that up to 50m hectares of land – an area more than double the size of the UK – has been acquired in the last few years or is in the process of being negotiated by governments and wealthy investors working with state subsidies. The data used was collected by Grain, the International Institute for Environment and Development, the International Land Coalition, ActionAid and other non-governmental groups.

The land rush, which is still accelerating, has been triggered by the worldwide food shortages which followed the sharp oil price rises in 2008, growing water shortages and the European Union’s insistence that 10% of all transport fuel must come from plant-based biofuels by 2015.

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Paradise Lost: Fertile Crescent will disappear this century

fertile-crescent
The Fertile Crescent is left dry as Turkish dams reduce the Tigris and Euphrates rivers to a trickle (AP)

Is it the final curtain for the Fertile Crescent? This summer, as Turkish dams reduce the Tigris and Euphrates rivers to a trickle, farmers abandon their desiccated fields across Iraq and Syria, and efforts to revive the Mesopotamian marshes appear to be abandoned, climate modellers are warning that the current drought is likely to become permanent. The Mesopotamian cradle of civilisation seems to be returning to desert.

Last week, Iraqi ministers called for urgent talks with upstream neighbours Turkey and Syria, after the combination of a second year of drought and dams in those countries cut flow on the Euphrates as it enters Iraq to below 250 cubic metres a second. That is less than a quarter the flow needed to maintain Iraqi agriculture.

Tensions have been growing since May, when the Iraqi parliament refused to approve a new much-needed trade deal with Turkey unless it contained binding clauses on river flows. But Turkey appears in no mood to compromise. In July, it announced the final go-ahead for yet another dam, the Ilisu on the Tigris.

Meanwhile, according to Hassan Partow at the UN Environment Programme, Iraq’s hydrological misery is compounded by Iran, which is also building new dams on tributaries of the Tigris. “Some of these rivers have run completely dry,” he told New Scientist. And Iraq itself is set to worsen the problem with its own dam building, he says. This year construction is set to begin on another Tigris tributary at Bekhme Gorge in Iraq’s northern province of Kurdistan. At 230 metres it will be one of the world’s tallest dams.

Paradise lost

In ancient times, the valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers through Iraq were bountiful – irrigating fields that sustained civilisations like Sumer and cities like Babylon. But the combination of drought, dams and Iraq’s own desire to revive its agriculture is placing huge pressure on the last remnant of that bounty, the Mesopotamian marshes, which form where the Tigris and Euphrates meet and flow to the sea.

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India: Water Wars Break Out

The monsoon is late, the wells are running dry and in the teeming city of Bhopal, water supply is now a deadly issue.

drought-india
A young man walks across Bhopal’s Upper Lake, which has shrunk to an eighth of its original area. Photograph: STR/AFP/Getty Images

It was a little after 8pm when the water started flowing through the pipe running beneath the dirt streets of Bhopal’s Sanjay Nagar slum. After days without a drop of water, the Malviya family were the first to reach the hole they had drilled in the pipe, filling what containers they had as quickly as they could. Within minutes, three of them were dead, hacked to death by angry neighbours who accused them of stealing water.

In Bhopal, and across much of northern India, a late monsoon and the driest June for 83 years are exacerbating the effects of a widespread drought and setting neighbour against neighbour in a desperate fight for survival.

India’s vast farming economy is on the verge of crisis. The lack of rain has hit northern areas most, but even in Mumbai, which has experienced heavy rainfall and flooding, authorities were forced to cut the water supply by 30% last week as levels in the lakes serving the city ran perilously low.

Across the country, from Gujarat to Hyderabad, in Andhra Pradesh, the state that claims to be “the rice bowl of India”, special prayers have been held for more rain after cumulative monsoon season figures fell 43% below average.

On Friday, India’s agriculture minister, Sharad Pawar, said the country was facing a drought-like situation that was a “matter for concern”, with serious problems developing in states such as Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

In Bhopal, which bills itself as the City of Lakes, patience is already at breaking point. The largest lake, the 1,000-year-old, man-made Upper Lake, had reduced in size from 38 sq km to 5 sq km by the start of last week.

The population of 1.8 million has been rationed to 30 minutes of water supply every other day since October. That became one day in three as the monsoon failed to materialise. In nearby Indore the ration is half an hour’s supply every seven days.

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Virtually free water supply for corporations vs. water shortages for residents

Public spigot stays open for water bottlers

You probably thought there was a serious water shortage in Florida.

It’s why we’re spending billions to repair and repurify the Everglades, right? It’s why we’re not supposed to run our lawn sprinklers more than once or twice a week.

But hold on. It turns out there’s a boundless, virtually free supply of Florida water — though not for residents. The public spigot remains open day and night for Nestle, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and 19 other corporations that bottle our water and sell it for a huge per-unit profit.

The stuff is no safer or tastier than most municipal tap water, but lots of us buy it, anyway. You know all the brands: Deer Park, Dasani, Zephyrhills, Aquafina, even Publix.

Common sense would suggest that a company with a balance sheet like Coca-Cola’s or Pepsi’s ought to pay for the water they take, the same as homeowners and small businesses do.

Nope. Every year, state water managers allow large bottling firms to siphon nearly two billion gallons from fresh springs and aquifers. The fees are laughably puny.

For example, it cost Nestle Waters of North America the grand sum of $150 for a permit to remove as much water as it pleases from the Blue Springs in Madison County. Every day, Nestle pipes about 500,000 gallons, enough to fill 102,000 plastic bottles that are then shipped to stores and supermarkets throughout the Southeast.

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Schwarzenegger declares California drought state of emergency

Federal water managers plan to temporarily cut off water this March to thousands of California farms. The state has said it probably would deliver just 15 percent of the water contractors have requested this year.

The state delivers water to more than 25 million Californians and more than 750,000 acres of farmland.

“It’s too late,” he said. “It’s going to sound horrible coming from a farmer because you never turn down help, but come on, this thing is over with.”



Layers of sun-baked earth are exposed in an area of the San Luis Reservoir near Gustine that was previously underwater but was dried out in January because of drought conditions. (Patrick Tehan / Mercury News)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency Friday because of three years of below-average rain and snowfall in California, a step that urges urban water agencies to reduce water use by 20 percent.

“This drought is having a devastating impact on our people, our communities, our economy and our environment, making today’s action absolutely necessary,” the Republican governor said in his statement.

Mandatory rationing is an option if the declaration and other measures are insufficient.

The drought has forced farmers to fallow their fields, put thousands of agricultural workers out of work and led to conservation measures in cities throughout the state, which is the nation’s top agricultural producer.

Agriculture losses could reach $2.8 billion this year and cost 95,000 jobs, said Lester Snow, the state water director.

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Drought to cut off federal water to California farms

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Federal water managers said Friday that they plan to cut off water, at least temporarily, to thousands of California farms as a result of the deepening drought gripping the state.

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation officials said parched reservoirs and patchy rainfall this year were forcing them to completely stop surface water deliveries for at least a three-week period beginning March 1. Authorities said they haven’t had to take such a drastic move for more than 15 years.

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California faces grimmest water situation ever

Drought causes the state’s agriculture industry to disappear while residents continue to consume water at high levels


Sprinklers water wheat crops in Bakersfield, California. The state is facing a severe water crisis. Photograph: David McNew/Getty Images

Bill Diedrich, a fourth-generation almond grower in California’s Central Valley, expects that many of his trees won’t make it through the year. “It’s one of the grimmest water situations we’ve ever faced,” he said. “It’s an absolute emergency and anything to get water flowing quickly is needed.”

The 400-mile Central Valley is many things: the world’s largest agricultural area; the “salad bowl”, where half of the country’s vegetables are grown. But this year, with water shortages of a severity not seen for decades, many farmers and others are echoing the recent words of energy secretary Steven Chu: if current weather patterns continue, Californian agriculture could disappear.

John “Dusty” Giacone, another fourth-generation Central Valley farmer, was forced to abandon his vegetable crop and divert his scarce water to save his 4,000 hectares of almond trees.

Related article: Obama’s energy secretary outlines dire climate change scenario (Guardian)

“Taking water from a farmer is like taking a pipe from a plumber,” Giacone told the Associated Press. “How do you conduct business?”

But many farmers are choosing the opposite course, abandoning their almond trees for a season in the hope that the good times, and a wetter than normal spring, might return. In the meantime, the trees are being left to die, or maintained just enough to survive.

The decline in the number of almond trees has led to an unintended consequence: a glut of bee colonies. Bees are used to pollinate almond trees, and beekeepers now face the prospect of an economic collapse as the almond market withers away.

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Severe drought threatens Chinese wheat crop

Low rainfall in the north has put nearly half of the country’s harvest at risk

A severe drought in northern China – considered the country’s breadbasket – has hit almost 43% of the country’s wheat crop this winter, senior officials have warned.

Low rainfall since October has affected more than 9.3m hectares (229.71 acres) of land in northern China across six major grain-producing provinces, according to the Office of State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters. Last week it warned that 3.7 million people and 1.85 million livestock had lost access to drinking water.

Vice-premier Hui Liangyu has urged local officials to make tackling the water shortage a priority, state media reported today. Beijing has set aside 100m yuan (£10m) of funding to help farmers combat the problem and have sent specialist teams to the worst affected areas. Provincial governments are planning to seed clouds to ensure it rains.

Henan Daily reported that the drought is the province’s most severe since 1951, with no rain for 105 days. It warned that up to 63% of the region’s wheat crop is threatened.

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Liberia declares state of emergency as caterpillar plague wrecks crops

Insect invasion is worst in the African country in 30 years

Liberia has declared a state of emergency over a plague of caterpillars that has destroyed plants and crops and contaminated water supplies, threatening an already fragile food situation.

Tens of millions of marching caterpillars have invaded at least 80 towns and villages in central and northern Liberia, preventing some farmers from reaching their fields and causing others to flee their homes. The inch-long pests – the caterpillar life stage of the noctuid moth – have spread to neighbouring Guinea and are threatening Sierra Leone, which has set up monitoring teams along its border.

Liberia’s president, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, said in a televised speech on Monday night that the country’s worst plague of caterpillars in three decades had “the potential to set back our progress in the production of food and export crops”.

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World warned of ‘food crunch’ threat

The world faces “the real risk of a food crunch” if governments do not take immediate action to address the agricultural impact of climate change and water scarcity, according to an authoritative report out on Monday.

Chatham House, the London-based think-tank, suggests that the recent fall in food prices is only a temporary reprieve and that prices are set to resume their upward trend once the world emerges from the current downturn.

“There is therefore a real risk of a ‘food crunch’ at some point in the future, which would fall particularly hard on import-dependent countries and on poor people everywhere,” the report states. “Food prices are poised to rise again,” it adds.

The warning is made as agriculture ministers and United Nations officials gather from Monday in Madrid for a UN meeting on food security likely to conclude that last year’s food crisis, with almost 1bn people hungry, is far from over.

The UN will warn ministers in Madrid that “as the global financial crisis deepens, hunger is likely to increase” under the impact of rising unemployment and lower remittances, according to three officials briefed ahead of the meeting.

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Ecologists warn the planet is running short of water

A swelling global population, changing diets and mankind’s expanding “water footprint” could be bringing an end to the era of cheap water.

The warnings, in an annual report by the Pacific Institute in California, come as ecologists have begun adopting the term “peak ecological water” – the point where, like the concept of “peak oil”, the world has to confront a natural limit on something once considered virtually infinite.

The world is in danger of running out of “sustainably managed water”, according to Peter Gleick, the president of the Pacific Institute and a leading authority on global freshwater resources.

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Dry South Australia buys in water

The dry bed of the Hume Weir, Murray-Darling basin Australia is facing its worst drought in a century

Australia’s driest state has decided to buy in water supplies amid fears it will run out next year.

South Australia said it had spent tens of millions of dollars to ensure Adelaide, Australia’s fifth-largest city, and the state had enough water.

State Premier Mike Rann described it as a “prudent and sensible” measure.

Drought has become a regular occurrence in South Australia, which already receives the least rainfall of any Australian state.

Lack of rainfall and a sharp reduction in the amount of water flowing into the Murray River meant the state could not guarantee water levels for 2009.

The state’s water security minister, Karlene Maywald, said she had purchased 61 billion gallons (231 gigalitres) of extra water for 2009.

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California to cut water deliveries to cities, farms

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – California said Thursday that it plans to cut water deliveries to their second-lowest level ever next year, raising the prospect of rationing for cities and less planting by farmers.

The Department of Water Resources projects that it will deliver just 15 percent of the amount that local water agencies throughout California request every year.

Since the first State Water Project deliveries were made in 1962, the only time less water was promised was in 1993, but heavy precipitation that year ultimately allowed agencies to receive their full requests.

The reservoirs that are most crucial to the state’s water delivery system are at their lowest levels since 1977, after two years of dry weather and court-ordered restrictions on water pumping out of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. This year, water agencies received just 35 percent of the water they requested.

Farmers in the Central Valley say they’ll be forced to fallow fields, while cities from the San Francisco Bay area to San Diego might have to require residents to ration water.

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World is facing a natural resources crisis worse than financial crunch

• Two planets need by 2030 at this rate, warns report
• Humans using 30% more resources than sustainable

The world is heading for an “ecological credit crunch” far worse than the current financial crisis because humans are over-using the natural resources of the planet, an international study warns today.

The Living Planet report calculates that humans are using 30% more resources than the Earth can replenish each year, which is leading to deforestation, degraded soils, polluted air and water, and dramatic declines in numbers of fish and other species. As a result, we are running up an ecological debt of $4tr (£2.5tr) to $4.5tr every year – double the estimated losses made by the world’s financial institutions as a result of the credit crisis – say the report’s authors, led by the conservation group WWF, formerly the World Wildlife Fund. The figure is based on a UN report which calculated the economic value of services provided by ecosystems destroyed annually, such as diminished rainfall for crops or reduced flood protection.

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